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Bible studies disciple thousands in Romania, Moldova, Guatemala

BUCHAREST, Romania (BP)–When Bill Davis, a retired Southern Baptist pastor and home missionary, traveled to Romania in 1994, he was distressed to see hundreds of Romanians profess faith in Jesus and be left with no evangelical ministry to help them grow.

His solution: mobilize Romanian churches to multiply their Bible teaching ministries into communities without an evangelical witness.

Davis’ “The Church on the March” program became the focus of a new organization, Church Starts International, which challenges churches to make disciples of new believers and teach them to disciple others.

The goal of each Church on the March campaign is to teach at least twice as many people weekly in the unevangelized community as a congregation teaches in its Sunday school.

Davis talked to Romanian Baptist pastors and seminary students about the idea of using outreach Bible study classes to start churches in communities in need of Christian witness.

The president of the Romanian Baptist Union gave Davis the names of seven particular communities in southeastern Romania that had the greatest need of a Baptist church.

Within a year, Baptist congregations had been started in each of the seven cities, plus one more.

Davis then recruited ministry teams from the United States to help him establish more churches. They reached their goal of 28 new churches.

“We found that traditional American evangelistic methods were counterproductive in conservative Orthodox villages where the priest is the maximum authority,” said Ted Lindwall, a retired Southern Baptist missionary to Guatemala who now works with CSI.

As a result, the organization learned how to quietly win and train new believers without attracting opposition from local religious leaders.

Because Church Starts International partners International Mission Board missionaries with specific Southern Baptist churches and coordinates projects through the IMB, all materials and services are offered without charge.

The organization operates on five basic principles:

1) Every community in the world deserves a New Testament church.

2) Baptist churches overseas and in the United States are called to establish partnerships in planting new churches.

3) CSI and the churches it enlists work exclusively through the IMB.

4) Baptist churches should be able to correctly train and send their own church-starting teams.

5) IMB missionaries should receive every kind of assistance to help them start Baptist churches in every nation and people group.

Church Starts International has spread beyond Romania. Now it trains pastors in Moldova and church members in Guatemala.

Approximately one-half of Guatemala’s Spanish-speaking churches are in the CSI program, discipling thousands of people every week.

“Traditional evangelical practice says, ‘Come to church and we will disciple you.’ The Church on the March goes out into the community to meet directly in lost homes,” Lindwall said.

“We have seen that it is not at all impossible to teach four times as many,” Lindwall said.
For information about Church Starts International, e-mail billda[email protected] or write P.O. Box 177, Henrietta, TX 76365.

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  • Erin Curry